I do a lot of work with the financial industry, training people to do a better job of selling to women. One complaint that I hear often is, "women can't make up their mind," "women are too slow to make a decision," or "I prefer working with men because they're quicker to pull the trigger."
Just for the record, it isn't just men that feel this way. Many women in the financial industry have the same complaint.
Are they right? Are women indecisive? The answer is, no. Women simply have a more deliberate decision making process. While female clients may take more time to close, they are worth it. Let's look at why.
Women have longer checklists
When making a buying decision, women have a longer checklist of things that matter to them.
In Re-Render the Gender, Tom Jordan shares an example of his father buying a condo. Look at the different checklists of what a man and a woman look for when buying a condo.
The guy takes a look around, makes sure he's getting a good price, and he's pretty much ready to buy. But you can see that the woman has a longer checklist of criteria that matters to her when buying a condo. Until she's satisfied everything on the list has been addressed, she's not ready to buy.
Women are more risk aware
Notice I didn't say women are more risk averse. They are simply hard-wired to plan ahead to try to avoid bad outcomes. Think back to hunter-gatherer days when men were focused on the short-term outcome - hunting their pray to bring home that night to eat. Women were focused on longer-term objectives, like having enough food to last the winter.
In a study on how men and women make investments, they measured brain activity in the subjects as they made investment decisions. In men, the reward center of the brain lit up. In women, the reward center lit up, but so did the consequence center.
When making buying decisions, she is planning ahead, wondering what will happen down the road, and wondering what might go wrong and who might be affected.
How to speed up a woman's buying process
At this point, sales people have a better understanding of her decision making process, but still want to know if there's anything they can do to speed it up - to get her to "yes" faster.
There are three things you can do to speed up a woman's buying process
- Address her concerns and objections. It's important to find out what her concerns and objections are as early as possible. If a woman says no, it's usually because she has a concern that hasn't been adequately addressed.
- Use testimonials. Have you worked successfully with women in the past? Get those women to write you a testimonial. Better yet, have them record a video. Let those women share, in their own words, what they like about working with you. Let the women sell you rather than selling yourself. The second reason why you lose a sale with a woman is because she does not trust you.
- Sell with stories, not facts. Don't just list out features and benefits. Share a story about how someone in a similar situation used the product or service. Stories are more memorable and make that emotional connection that motivates women to take action. (And just FYI, stories are a great selling technique for men as well.)
If you care about client retention, you want women clients.
Because women are more deliberate, because they put more time and research into their decisions, they tend to be more confident in those decisions. Women are more loyal to individual service providers (aka financial service providers) than men.
If you care about referrals, you want women clients.
Women refer more often than men do. Ask any woman how she found her financial adviser, pediatrician, hair stylist, and she'll tell you, "a friend recommended him/her."
When you do a good job with women, they notice, especially if it's an industry, like the financial industry, where she feels she's been ignored, or misunderstood. If she has a good experience, she's going to share it with her friends and family and recommend you.The choice is yours. You can view women as indecisive and not waste your time with them. But chances are a smart competitor is out there making a serious effort to sell to women and seeing the financial rewards because of it.